Sunday, June 12, 2016

He survived thru a twist of fate.

The year was 1929 and Chicago was a hotbed of gangster activity. Rival gangs fought amongst themselves for control of the city's lucrative underworld market's. Prohibition was the law of the land and illegal sales and distribution of alcohol built empires and made ordinary mobsters Kings.

Two of the most notorious were the North side Irish gang of Bugs Moran and the South side Italian gang of Alphonse Capone. On February 14th  a meeting had been set up to supposedly purchase liquor stolen from Al Capone's gang. The men were surprised by four men, two dressed as policemen and two in plainclothes posing as an undercover raiding party. But far from actual law enforcement officers they were members of the Capone gang who lined seven men up in a garage on North Clark street and executed them at point blank range. Seven men cut down in the prime of their lives.

But there was supposed to be Nine.

In 1929 Leo Mongoven of Lee county was described as a Dangerous public enemy and a top machine gunner for Bugs Moran. He and his boss were supposed to be at that garage with the others. But in an ironic twist of fate Mongoven stopped to buy a pack of cigarettes. They arrived in time to see police cars at the scene and immediately turned around and left.

In time prohibition was repealed and gang activity was sharply curtailed. Al Capone ended up in prison and the gangs broke up, reformed, and broke up again. Bugs Moran died in prison in 1957.

The garage on Clark street is gone, now a parking lot for a nursing home. The bricks from the wall where seven men died went thru a number of owners before being donated to the Mob museum in Las Vegas.

And Leo Mongoven? He lived a long life, dying in 1980 at the ripe age of 84. To find this marker go up to Amboy to the Catholic cemetery. Go in the first entrance and it will be on the right side of the lane about 100 feet from the entrance.

A big thank you to William Eckberg for passing along this story to us.

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